New York City Backs Off School Cell Phone Ban, Though Some Officials Still See Cellular Tech As The Worst Sort Of Foul Devilry

from the my-cell-phone-made-me-do-it dept

Roughly nine years ago, then New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg decided to impose an outright ban on cell phones in city schools, proclaiming that the devices were both a distraction and a safety issue (the latter never really being explained coherently). The ban, of course, wasn't well-received by parents who were suddenly unable to reach their children, nor was it well-received by students who were just truly entering the smartphone era. To make things worse, the city developed a revenue stream whereby students could store their phones outside of school (in "Pure Loyalty Electronic Device Storage" vans, to be precise) -- for $1 per day.

Fast forward nearly a decade and Mayor de Blasio -- the first New York City Mayor in city history to have a child in public school while in office -- has decided to do away with the ban. In what seems like a far more sensible and streamlined policy decision, it will now be up to individual schools to enact and enforce their own cell phone policies. That's not to everybody's liking; some school officials still apparently see cell phones as foul devilry that somehow magically amplify all of the very worst aspects of human behavior:
"But the phones, which would be regulated on a school-by-school basis, can pose numerous problems. Some principals, particularly those of schools with high rates of behavioral problems, have privately said they oppose lifting the ban. They worry about the potential for cheating and the risk of theft. When fights break out, they say, students with cellphones in their pockets can summon a much larger crowd."
That's right, because cheating, theft and fights are the sort of things that just don't normally happen in the Utopian New York City public school district. One anonymous principal agrees, similarly telling the Times that allowing cell phones means not only more theft (again, because nothing valuable normally gets stolen in schools), but oddly will also result in an increase in "staged fights" for the benefit of social media:
"A principal of a high school with metal detectors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly on the matter, said he was extremely disappointed with the decision. “This increases the potential for incidents,” he said, adding that iPhones make appealing targets for theft, which would be recorded as a major incident on a student’s record. "Kids are going to stage fights so they can put up posts on social media," he said."
Staged fights? How about oh, just making them stop fighting (or pretending to fight) like we used to do way back in the old-timey times? Or does cellular radiation now somehow magically mutate child DNA empowering them with superhuman strength, preternatural speed and omniscience? Banning cellular tech completely because somebody might video a fight doesn't seem like much of an argument, especially in light of the benefits cell phones bring in moments of disaster or emergency, something the next decade's sure to hold no shortage of.

Filed Under: ban, bill de blasio, mobile phones, new york city, schools


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2015 @ 2:00pm

    So how do you tell the difference between a staged fight and a bully determined to have a fight? Look the same to me. So NYC school departments are saying they have gotten rid of all the bullies? Right.

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